Types of program installation in Linux

Linux packages include the executables and information necessary for installation

Every now and then the Linux blogosphere is shaken by an absurd and useless controversy. Instead of adding to it, I prefer to give as much information as possible so that the reader can draw their own conclusions, which is why We are going to talk about the different ways of installing programs in Ubuntu.

These controversies usually have a choreography that is as boring as it is repeated. Some more or less unknown member of a project or company makes a comment in a personal capacity about some other project. How that comment coincides with other people's prejudices is spread throughout the network. Almost no one bothers to resort to the original source and what was an expression of a personal preference becomes an unappealable technical truth.

I remember the Automatix case. It was a script that allowed you to easily install drivers, multimedia codecs and proprietary software in Ubuntu. A Red Hat developer commented that the program description did not meet Debian specifications, but by the time the news hit the forums and blogs it was Red Hat saying that Automatix was bad.
The reality is that every technology has its advantages and disadvantages and it is the user who has to make their own decisions without being influenced by the prejudices of others.

Types of program installation in Ubuntu

Let's start by clarifying that most of the time in Linux, programs are not installed but packages are installed. The packages contain:

  • The executable program (The equivalent of the .exe in Windows.
  • The configuration file.
  • The list of dependencies

The configuration file contains the program name, version number, package description, and repository ID.

The dependency list indicates What other programs need to be installed for the program we are going to install to work. Let's dwell a little on this idea.

Programs with different objectives can perform similar functions. The Writer word processor, the Firefox browser and the Gimp image editor allow you to print content. If each of them had to implement their own printing routine, their disk size would increase, not to mention development time.. The same for the rest of the common functions.

That is why to print everyone uses the operating system's printing libraries.

Classification of installation types

We can classify the types of installation by:

  • The way of installation.
  • The management of dependencies.

The way of installation

In this section we have two types

Manual installation

It is the most similar to when in Windows we downloaded a program and double-clicked on it to start the installer. It will not update automatically and we may need to fix dependency issues.

A variant of manual installation is compilation. This consists of transforming the program code into a language that the computer is capable of understanding. We need the program code and a file with compilation instructions.

It is a slow process and may have to be repeated several times since when a missing dependency is found it stops until it is installed.

Installation using package managers

Package Managers They are applications that automate the task of downloading, installing, uninstalling and configuring programs from the terminal or graphical interface.. They do this by connecting to a type of servers known as repositories. We will talk more about repositories in the next article.

Classification by dependency management

Common packages

These types of packages are the ones we described at the beginning. They need the dependencies to be installed for their operation. If they are not, the package manager is usually in charge of obtaining them. These packages are updated (If necessary) by the normal Ubuntu update procedure. Any modification to the operating system can affect them

Self-contained packages

Self-contained packages include all the dependencies necessary for their operation and do not interact with the operating system.unless expressly indicated. They are updated separately and are not affected by changes in Ubuntu.


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